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A Critical Analysis of the Iranian Constitution of 1906 and Its Impact on Iranian History and Culture

Iranian Constitution 1906 PDF Download


If you are interested in learning more about the history and culture of Iran, one of the most important documents you should read is the Iranian Constitution of 1906. This constitution was the result of a popular uprising that challenged the absolute monarchy of the Qajar dynasty and demanded a constitutional government that would respect the rights and freedoms of the people. The constitution was also influenced by the ideas and movements of the Enlightenment, nationalism, liberalism, democracy, and constitutionalism that were spreading across Europe and Asia at the time.

iranian constitution 1906 pdf download


In this article, we will provide you with a brief overview and a critical analysis of the Iranian Constitution of 1906. We will also show you how you can download a PDF version of it for free. By reading this article, you will gain a better understanding of the historical context, the main features, and the significance of this constitution for Iran and the world.

The Iranian Constitution of 1906: A Brief Overview

The Background and Context of the Constitutional Revolution

The Iranian Constitution of 1906 was not created in a vacuum. It was the product of a long and complex process that involved political, social, economic, religious, and cultural factors. Some of the main factors that contributed to the emergence of the Constitutional Revolution were:

  • The decline and corruption of the Qajar dynasty, which ruled Iran from 1789 to 1925. The Qajar kings were unable to protect Iran's sovereignty and territorial integrity from foreign interference and aggression, especially from Russia and Britain. They also exploited and oppressed their subjects, imposing heavy taxes, arbitrary laws, and brutal punishments.

  • The rise and influence of modern ideas and movements in Iran and abroad. Many Iranians were exposed to new concepts and values such as nationalism, liberalism, democracy, constitutionalism, human rights, civil society, secularism, education, journalism, etc. through travel, trade, education, literature, newspapers, etc. Some Iranians also joined or supported revolutionary movements in other countries such as Turkey, India, Egypt, etc.

  • The dissatisfaction and mobilization of various segments of Iranian society against the Qajar regime. These included intellectuals, clerics, merchants, artisans, peasants, workers, women, ethnic minorities, etc. They formed various associations, clubs, societies, councils, etc. to voice their grievances and demands. They also organized protests, strikes, boycotts, petitions, etc. to pressure the government for reforms.

The Constitutional Revolution began in December 1905 when a group of merchants in Tehran closed their shops in protest against a new tax imposed by the governor-general. The protest soon spread to other cities and regions and gained support from other social groups. The protesters demanded the dismissal of corrupt officials, the establishment of a parliament (majlis), and the drafting of a constitution that would limit the power of the king and guarantee the rights and liberties of the people.

The Qajar government initially tried to suppress the movement by force but failed to do so. In August 1906, the king agreed to convene a national assembly (majlis) composed of representatives from different classes and regions. The assembly was tasked with drafting a constitution for Iran. The king also issued a royal decree (farmān) that recognized the majlis as the highest authority in the country and promised to abide by its decisions.

The Main Features and Principles of the Constitution

The Iranian Constitution of 1906 consisted of two parts: the Fundamental Laws and the Supplementary Laws. The Fundamental Laws were adopted by the majlis in December 1906 and ratified by the king in January 1907. The Supplementary Laws were adopted by the majlis in October 1907 and ratified by the king in December 1907. The constitution was inspired by the constitutions of Belgium, France, Britain, and the Ottoman Empire, but it also incorporated elements of Iranian tradition and Islamic law.

Some of the main features and principles of the constitution were:

  • The establishment of a constitutional monarchy, in which the king would share his power with an elected parliament (majlis) and a responsible cabinet (vazīr). The king would retain his executive authority, but he would have to consult with the majlis and the cabinet on important matters. The majlis would have legislative authority, but it would have to respect the king's veto power. The cabinet would have administrative authority, but it would have to answer to the majlis and the king.

  • The recognition of the sovereignty of the nation and the supremacy of the law. The constitution declared that "the source of all powers is vested in the entire nation" and that "the rights of sovereignty are a trust from God". It also stated that "the law is above all" and that "no one can disobey it". The constitution aimed to create a rule of law that would protect the rights and interests of all citizens and prevent tyranny and injustice.

  • The guarantee of civil rights and liberties for all subjects. The constitution granted various rights and freedoms to the people, such as freedom of expression, association, assembly, petition, religion, education, etc. It also prohibited arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, exile, confiscation, etc. It also provided for equality before the law, due process of law, trial by jury, etc. The constitution aimed to create a civil society that would foster participation, diversity, tolerance, and progress.

  • The endorsement of national unity and territorial integrity. The constitution affirmed that "Iran is one indivisible state" and that "all Iranians are equal in rights". It also recognized the diversity and autonomy of different regions, provinces, tribes, ethnic groups, religions, etc. within Iran. It also sought to defend Iran's sovereignty and independence from foreign intervention and aggression. The constitution aimed to create a national identity that would promote solidarity, loyalty, patriotism, and pride.

The Challenges and Limitations of the Constitutional Era

The Iranian Constitution of 1906 was a remarkable achievement for its time and place. It represented a radical departure from the traditional system of governance in Iran and a bold attempt to modernize and democratize the country. However, it also faced many challenges and limitations that prevented it from being fully implemented and realized. Some of these were:

  • The resistance and hostility of the Qajar monarchy, which tried to undermine or overthrow the constitutional system by various means such as dissolving or manipulating the majlis, appointing or dismissing ministers, declaring martial law or emergency rule, etc. The Qajar kings also sought support from foreign powers such as Russia and Britain to maintain their authority and influence.

  • The opposition and division of the religious establishment (ulama), which had a mixed attitude towards the constitutional system. Some clerics supported or participated in the constitutional movement as a way to reform or protect Islam from corruption or foreign influence. Others rejected or resisted the constitutional system as a threat to their authority or interests or as a deviation from Islamic principles or values.

  • The lack of consensus and cooperation among the constitutionalists themselves, who had different visions, agendas, ideologies, strategies, etc. for the constitutional system. Some constitutionalists were more radical or progressive than others in terms of their political, social, economic, religious, cultural views or demands. Some constitutionalists also formed factions or parties that competed or conflicted with each other for power or influence.

  • The weakness and instability of the constitutional institutions and processes, which were not well-established or well-functioning due to various factors such as lack of experience or expertise, lack of resources or infrastructure, lack of legitimacy or support, etc. The constitutional system also faced various challenges such as corruption or inefficiency, violence or disorder, poverty or inequality, illiteracy or ignorance, etc.

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What are some of the similarities and differences between the Iranian Constitution of 1906 and the current constitution of Iran?

The current constitution of Iran was adopted in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the Pahlavi Dynasty and established the Islamic Republic. The current constitution has some similarities and differences with the Iranian Constitution of 1906. Some of these are:

  • Both constitutions recognize Islam as the official religion of Iran and the Ja'fari sect as the official sect. However, the current constitution gives Islam a more prominent and dominant role in the political and legal system of Iran and declares that "all civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria". The current constitution also establishes a supreme leader (vali-e faqih) who is a senior cleric and has ultimate authority over all affairs of the state.

  • Both constitutions establish a constitutional system that consists of a head of state (the king or the supreme leader), a parliament (the majlis or the Islamic Consultative Assembly), a cabinet (the vazir or the Council of Ministers), a judiciary (the courts or the Judiciary), etc. However, the current constitution gives more power and influence to the head of state and less power and independence to the parliament, the cabinet, and the judiciary. The current constitution also creates some new institutions such as the Guardian Council, the Expediency Council, etc. that oversee or supervise the constitutional system.

  • Both constitutions grant some civil rights and liberties to the citizens such as freedom of expression, association, assembly, petition, religion, education, etc. However, the current constitution limits or restricts these rights and liberties by various conditions or qualifications such as "within the limits of the law", "in conformity with Islamic criteria", "in accordance with public order and morality", etc. The current constitution also discriminates or excludes some groups or sectors from these rights and liberties such as women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, etc.

  • Both constitutions endorse national unity and territorial integrity as important values and goals for Iran. However, the current constitution emphasizes more on Islamic unity and identity as opposed to national unity and identity. The current constitution also adopts a more confrontational or hostile stance towards foreign powers or influences that are perceived as enemies or threats to Iran's sovereignty or interests.

This is the end of my article on the Iranian Constitution of 1906. I hope you enjoyed reading it and learned something new from it. Thank you for your attention and feedback. 71b2f0854b


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